FAMILY

October & November 🧡🍁🍂

My last blog entry, back when we’d all had Covid and had a little hiatus of at-home peace, was called Slowing Down – and this one could very easily be Speeding Back Up, as – despite falling in love with the gentle pace of life we had for a few weeks there and doing my best, at first at least, to keep things a little less busy – before I knew it, we were back to as much of a whirl as ever.

Sometimes, with my care home job, extra bank shifts in the NHS, my volunteer work with the playgroup, college, the kids – changing and growing and spreading their little wings, the pets, including the pony, who’s on an in-at-nights routine now for winter….. sometimes all of it can be a bit of a juggling act and there have been times in the past few months that I’ve found myself stressed and struggling to balance it all.

But, while it was wonderful to have the pressure off for a bit and just enjoy time at home with the family, I’ve found my perspective shift on all the busyness in the past couple of weeks and I’ve been very grateful for it. My focus is very much on the time with family as the most important thing, and I truly love the days when we’ve nothing to do but put a cosy film on or head out together for a day’s exploring, but within all the busyness there have been so many amazing experiences.

Both girls are reaching new stages all the time – our oldest is thriving in nursery now – just a few months away from school and suddenly seeming ready for it being around the corner, gaining confidence in herself and all her activities every day; and youngest still keeping me busy with all the toddlers groups we go along to together, loving the routine of different things every day, but also having just started one morning a week being dropped off at playgroup, settling in beautifully. Being part of their little worlds at this stage is amazing – and all of it I feel just so all-in with – the music group both of them have always gone along to, youngest still going every Monday morning, is somewhere I feel so happy to have a little community of parents and children and to know all the songs and atmosphere of so well – same with our village Toddlers and our regular soft play cafe with friends. My Littles thrive on the routine but I do too. Recently I got involved in helping with a little weekly library in my Big Little’s nursery and I’ve loved it, being in her environment, getting to know kids and staff and get an insight into her days. (Plus it is a joy to see the kids’ joy at borrowing books!)

With working with playgroup too, Littlest Little’s transition has been so easy, as she’s been used to popping in and out with me, and I love knowing the staff well who are looking after her as she moves away from us a couple of hours a week for the first time – a big thing for a lockdown baby!! We seem to be moving fast away from this little toddler / pre-school era and I really want to take the time to enjoy it all while it lasts.

In working and studying at the moment, there are a lot of plates spinning, but I have found some ways to settle it down a little in the last little while – I’m really glad to be working relief / bank and being able to reduce down or increase hours where needed, and, at the moment, with so much going on, I’m sticking to a routine of 2 days a week in the care home, and been taking just (pretty occasional at the moment!) ad hoc extra shifts at the hospital with the NHS over and above. I don’t feel able to settle into a regular pattern there at the moment, but the shifts I’ve been doing – sometimes in our local hospital in rehab wards, sometimes in the bigger hospital in the labour wards and maternity department, have been amazing. I’ve learned so much, and it’s amazing experience I’m glad to build on slowly. Being in maternity is something I’ve wanted to do ever since I was in with my first and I love having a chance to work there on and off. All of it ties in so well to college too, where we’ve just begun our SVQ along with our weekly classes, and so are doing lots of reflecting on work. And, in fact, all of the playgroup work ties in too as I’m getting such an insight into early years care and especially all the care standards side of it, so between the three there’s such a lot to inform all our interesting conversations in college, and it’s great to have so much to draw on and really lets me make the most of the time studying.

But keeping all this to a limit has meant that there has been some time again for those totally relaxed times with family, at home, with the animals, or out adventuring. In the past couple of months we’ve managed a couple of lovely trips I meant to find time to post about – one up to Pitlochry to the Enchanted Forest, a traditional highlight of our year – this year the first since 2019 and therefore first for our Littlest Little – we all just loved it, and had an amazing time. It was as beautiful as ever – very simple, very stripped back, and such a peaceful and magical night.

A couple of weeks later, we were back up in the same area (our original trip would have been combined but had to rearrange both when we weren’t well so ended up two jaunts, one just for the evening and a second overnight!). We spent a night in Aberfeldy, and a couple of days exploring Aberfeldy, Pitlochry and surrounding countryside, and had a wonderful time. Things had been busy for all of us, with all the kids’ activities and and our works – my husband a couple of months into a very busy new job too – and it was so lovely to take what was really just a 24 hour break, but felt to us like a week away, in the midst of it all.

As we come to the end of November, we’re all looking forward to December, to Christmas and all the family celebrating (a 5th birthday coming up, not that I can quite believe it!), and I’m so enjoying it all. The pets are doing well – more of a post on them when I can! Today both girls are home as it’s a strike day at the schools, so we are off to do our horse chores shortly and enjoy some unscheduled time with the big nursery girl home.

Hope you are all well. ❤

FAMILY

Slowing down

A couple of weeks ago, we finally succumbed to Covid for the first time in our wee house. I had picked it up at work, testing positive just as the ward I’d been working on in the hospital was closed due to multiple cases, and within a couple of days the rest of the family had fallen with me… We did feel pretty bad for a day or two each, and our littlest took a little longer to bounce back, as she sometimes does (I think really just because her normal involves about ten times the energy of everyone else’s!!) – but, for the most part, we’ve been very lucky indeed not to be badly affected at all, and to have felt well enough to enjoy our time at home.

Although I was a little sorry of course when I tested positive to have to pull out of work and miss seeing the people we had planned to and doing all our usual day-to-day things; really a huge part of me was just overwhelmingly relieved to have the gift of being able to stop.

Life has been very busy recently – very positive and rewarding and full of things we’re glad to be doing, but just a bit of a constant whirl. It was quite amazing for it all suddenly to come to a halt. One morning we were out in the rain on the nursery and toddlers run, dashing to meet family, stop off at college, get the food shopping done, my husband and I juggling our works and childcare… and the next it was all cancelled for the next few days at least, and we had nothing to do but press pause, and enjoy each other’s company at home.

Morning dash on our last morning before we paused ❤️ lovely to do, but lovely to take a break from too.

Often with the little ones I’ll tend to take us out to a cafe or park or soft play, but in the past couple of weeks we have found such a lot to love about time to just be, whether it’s playing in the garden, cosying up to watch Disney films of an afternoon with hot chocolates, crafting or reading stories.

I had already decided to pull back a little on the number of days I’d been working (the beauty of relief work!) because I felt like I’d started missing a bit too much of family life, but this chance to totally absorb myself in the day-to-day of the kids and their games and loves has just been amazing.

After a few days in completely, the past few I’ve got back to getting out to the pony at the farm in the mornings, going early when everything is quiet and bringing him and his fieldmate in, giving C his breakfast, taking him a little wander around the farm. Laterally, this had been done every day but in a total rush, sometimes squeezed into the shortest time possible before the day began, and others juggling the junior jockeys too – which always made it more chaotic. But the past few days since I’ve been back to it it’s been lovely to give it its proper time and really enjoy the routine.

This afternoon, after a showing of a family favourite, Toy Story 2, the girls played in the garden for an hour and a half – first all of us chasing and running and then evolving into them doing some impromptu water and mud play when they unearthed some very past-it old plants in plant pots in the corner of the garden and decided (optimistically) to water some and recycle the soil of others. They’ll have to wait until they get back to nursery and playgroup after the holidays to actually grow something (gardeners we are not!) but it was amazing how much joy came from old pots, dirt and water, and I am really, really loving having so much time to get caught up in the explorations of the moment and just enjoy it all.

I think we were overdue for a slow down, and am really loving the new pace – and, when we do get back out more and more as the days go by (we’re into the October holidays now so no rush to), I really want to keep it as much as possible. It’s lovely to take time to just enjoy all the little moments.

Hope you are all having a good week. Xx

BLOGGING & AWARDS, Uncategorized

Back to blogging….

It’s been literally months since I last wrote… we were just edging into spring, watching the first daffodils open; and since then the busiest few months have tumbled by, leaving us with September just around the corner – the new start and fresh notebooks of the academic year and the first yellowing leaves in the air. ❤

We’ve had such a full few months here – one nursery year drawing to a close, six weeks of summer holidaying with both girls home (and even a short holiday away down to Northumberland, our first in sooo long), and another year beginning – with a whirl of work and family twists and turns weaving through it all.

I was just beginning all 3 of my new ventures when I last tapped out a blog entry (which goes some way to explaining why it’s been so long!) and am settled in to all now, very much at home at my care home, settling to bank shifts at the NHS, and properly bedded into the playgroup, all of which have complemented each other really well and been such a learning experience individually and together – challenging, rewarding and fascinating – and have kept me very busy as I’ve tried to get up to speed and find a balance that works for family life.

I’d love to write a post when I can about our summer holiday away – it was only 4 nights but was our first proper wee holiday as a family of four, and first since summer 2019, and we all loved it so much. But there’s been so many wonderful experiences too just here at home over the summer – in woods, at wildlife parks, having picnics and explores. Been so grateful for the extra time with the little ones. 🥰

Can’t blog without mentioning the pets too – our beloved rabble. Just after I last wrote, it was Charmer’s 26th birthday, which he celebrated in style ❤️❤️ , closely followed by the cats’ 1st birthday – our little kittens no more! – and then a couple of months’ later by Sparkle’s 2nd, making him approx 100 in his little dwarf hamster years. We were lucky to have him to a wonderful age, especially he was already in his older age when he first arrived with us last November, but we said goodbye to him earlier this month.

Charmer turning 26!
… and Rosie and Teddy turning 1 ❤️
Stitch Sparkleworks “Sparkle” ❤️

Charmer, Rosie and Theo continue to be thriving, as well as Fish ❤️ who moved to his new tank not long after I last wrote and seems to be enjoying life!

Even young Pidge (for anyone who remembers our short term stint as pigeon owners!!) is doing well. He was actually due to leave for a sanctuary in Derbyshire at the beginning of the summer who take pigeons and lots of birds, Linjoy Sanctuary. I’m sure it would have been fantastic, but in the end Pidge had so charmed the pigeon rehabilitater who had done so much to help him, that he has ended up staying there among other his pigeons and birds. ❤️ A happy ending for our handsome arrival into a winter barn if ever there was one.

We’re looking forward to new chapters here – the little ones are hitting their stride again, the oldest beginning her deferral year before school next year, and the youngest back to toddlers, music classes and soft play. I am also starting my HNC in Social Services at college next week, which I’m really excited about, first time as a student since I left uni in 2009!

It’s lovely to have a chance to tap out some thoughts again, and I hope to again very soon!

Hope you are all well ☺️ xx

FAMILY, NATURE & SEASONS, PETS

A Springtime Hello 🌷

Been so long since I wrote here and just wanted to say a springtime hello from us… Here in our wee corner of the world things are coming to life… the daffodils in the driveway have been out for a little while but our first doorstep daffodil opened up yesterday, causing much excitement among the kids!

We’ve had a mix of weather recently – mostly really lovely and warm and sunny which has been amazing, but also some dashes of rain, hail, wind and snow just to keep us on our toes. I’ve been reminded as I am every year of my favourite quote about this time of year…

Life has been hurtling on a fair pace, with the kids reaching new stages and keeping us on our toes, and in the past few weeks I’ve started a new job as well as taking on another voluntary role that’s been keeping me busy too. Really loving my new work – still in elderly care, but in a new care home I’m so enjoying settling in to; and also the new challenges and lots of learning as chair of the committee of the playgroup the kids have been to / will go to!

I’m going to start working more over the next little while – in the care home and also (eventually, taking a little longer to get all the training set up!) in the NHS at our local hospital too. Both are very similar roles and both on a relief/bank basis so I can build up my hours slowly and adjust as needed, and I’m really looking forward to it all.

But I continue to love all the time I get to have at home with the Littles – which has been all the more this week as we’re one week into the Easter holidays and filling our days with soft plays, park explores, cycles round the village and just all those chilled-out everyday things – and we met Bluey this week which definitely wasn’t an everyday thing and blew everyone’s mind!

Since I last wrote, we’ve had the whole spring term and got established a school start date for our biggest girl, something we’d been spending lots of energy deliberating over as she’d been on the younger end of her year and we had the chance to defer and therefore choose whether it was best to go at 4 1/2 or 5 1/2. We’re now set that she’s starting in August 2023, with one more year left of nursery, where she’s really learning and growing, which feels like the best decision – and it’s lovely to see everyone settle into a new settled-on plan! Our littlest too has been enjoying her toddlers groups, wee music class and a new gymnastics one too which is right up her street – building up her confidence of different places and groups before she starts at the playgroup in October when she turns 2 and a half.

It’s been lovely to have lots of time with both wee ones – and we had an extra special time last week as the tiniest turned a big 2!

We spent the day the four of us at the sea life centre we’re lucky to have just ten minutes away and are very excited to have booked a family pass so we can make trips there more often, as it’s something both girls are loving just now.

The animals have been doing very well too, with “young” Charmer creeping up on his 26th birthday and even younger Rosie and Theo following a few days later with their 1st! The last week of April is a big one for the furry members of the family, celebrating our oldest on the 23rd and the youngest pair of tearaways on the 29th… so expect more ramblings on all of them very soon!

Little Sparkle-hamster is doing great too, 21 months old and enjoying life – in fact this little positioning of chosen bed and food bowl the past few days have been making me laugh that he has life made – doesn’t have to move far! Though actually he really does choose to, such a happy wee exerciser, especially for his age!

We have actually added a new addition to our pet count since I last wrote (and it’s not Pidge, though more on him in a minute as he is still going strong – against all odds!! – with the rehabilitation people who have him) – a new very handsome six-year-old Sarasa Comet goldfish, inherited from family and here with us to join our household now. ❤️ I had no idea there was such a lot to learn about goldfish, it’s been such a learning curve so far! But also no idea how quickly you could become attached to one, very fond of my swimming friend.. ❤️

(As is Rosie….!)

(If anyone is a fish expert let me know!.. as I am learning all I can about them and currently like a little chemistry student with my test strips navigating the world of nitrogen cycles before we transfer Fish to a new tank we’ve got for him..!)

Last but absolutely not least is the handsome Pidge, who has made a remarkable recovery and is still in the very capable hands of the pigeon rescue experts at the moment. They don’t have the capacity to keep him long term so we do think at some point he may come back to us again for a wee stint before finding where he’s best to spend his days! Part of me would love to keep him and offer him a base here but I’m really not sure we’re the best place and want him to have a happy life after all he’s come through. But wherever we end up finding for him, or what next twists and turns his wee journey takes, Pidge has had some story and we will have been so glad to be a part of it for as long or short as we are.

It’s a very eclectic mix of animals at the moment! Been taking me back to my days of rat cages stacked up and new and interesting characters coming in from rescues and teaching me lessons every day. The last two have just found us when we were least expecting them, and very glad to have them all as temporary or permanent additions to our home.

Saturday morning now as I’m finishing this off and and have enjoyed a wee bit time with my biggest boy and some whole-family biking fun before my back shift later. With the new working routine time making the most of all the time we get to have the four of us and a proper springy day this morning to enjoy it.

Hope you’re all doing well, have a lovely weekend.

FAMILY, NATURE & SEASONS

2021 In Pictures ❤️

Have really enjoyed in the last couple of days looking back at some pictures from this year. Seeing the early ones especially reminded me so much how shut down everything was in the first few months of the year and, even though all the snapshots here were lovely moments, how much I was struggling with it. The thing I’m most grateful for as the year has gone on is more time back with family and friends – and when I look at some of these: getting back to my in-laws to stay after months apart, drinks out with my friends for the first time in so long, I remember the soar of joy. So many returns to things we love for us all and firsts altogether for our littlest – her first birthday, first beach and first soft play all in the highlights. ❤️

There has been lots of change for us all in work, nursery, toddlers.. seasons coming to a close and new ones beginning. There’s more still even on the horizon as I already know as the new year arrives I want to make a change again at work, and for our oldest January is time for decisions on school applications and deferrals, a big topic for us at the moment. In 2022 I can already see us moving on just as in 2021.

We said goodbye to our lovely Sandy hamster this year but also a huge welcome the family to tiny Sparkle; – and of course to Rosie and Theo our little cats too, who’ve been with us six months now and fill the house with happy chaos… And Charmer throughout the year has been enjoying having the whole family running after him as much as ever, turning 25 and even toddling off on a couple of retirement-defying hacks. 🥰

As this year draws to a close it’s a big one we’re looking back on. Can’t wait quite believe it was a just-turned-3 year old and a little 9 month old who couldn’t walk yet (just! She began on day 2 of the year!) who we entered 2021 with this time last year… our 4 year old and creeping up on 2 year old seem so grown in a year.

Looking forward to lots more adventures this year, and wishing you all the very very best for 2022. A very Happy New Year one and all when when it comes. ❤️

FAMILY

Hello from our now Christmassy corner of the world 🎄

It’s been so long since I last wrote and having just realised how much I’ve neglected this lovely wee space that I do so appreciate gathering my thoughts in, thought I would do a little catch-up post, as we somehow (how fast has time gone this year?!) enter the home straight with just under two weeks to go until Christmas.

Since I last wrote, here in this little corner of the world we’ve just enjoying watching October turn into a sunny and bright November, and then before we knew it we were here in a stormy December, with our tree up and excitement levels for the little ones reaching heights I could barely do justice to!!

Term has tumbled on and I’ve so enjoyed in this first half of this year getting my littlest one out to a village toddlers group where she’s grown so much in confidence, her little weekly toddler music group we’ve always loved so much, where again she’s ruling the roost now, and just all our usual play dates, wanders and adventures. She’s at such a fantastic age where she’s starting to look forward to meeting her friends and learning the routines – leading me down the hill in the village from nursery to toddlers very determinedly. ❤️ Meanwhile, we’re two terms in at nursery for my big girl who’s going to be 4 this week!! (Can’t quite get my head around that one..) and for the most part she’s settled so well, finding her feet and now loving coming to the end of the first half of the year, Christmas party around the corner and coming home with her face shining with a Christmas centrepiece for the table and stories of dressing up for the little nativity play 🤩 We’ve still kept nursery part-time for the moment and as a result I’ve still been loving some time with both my girls in the afternoons – and our activities are growing steadily more festive every day just now, hanging lights and baubles on our old bedraggled but beloved Christmas tree in the garden, making a wreath for the door under the direction of Grandad who does them every year, and wrapping up to head round the village on “twinkle walks” that definitely do not disappoint. 🤩❤️

And if the kids are hyped up at this time of the year, I’m not sure what that makes these two….

Rosie and Theo, now almost eight months old, could not be loving their first Christmas more!! I am forever gathering baubles from around the room, re-adjusting the branches on the Christmas tree from where some cat-shaped dents have materialised and re-hanging stockings by the fire.. but they are having quite simply the time of their little kitten lives, so we can’t mind too much!

Teddy-cat in the Christmas tree

We also have another little character in our home that I still need to introduce on here, the lovely Stitch Sparkleworks 🌟🐹 (long story short… he was originally named Stitch, but my wee My Little Pony fans had decided his new name for his new home was to be Sparkleworks… however by the time we went to collect him they had also got attached to the name he had in the rescue centre and didn’t want to part with it… so Stitch Sparkleworks he is, often variously shortened to Stitch, Sparky or Sparkle which gives him a range of identities but which he doesn’t seem too troubled by 😂)

He is a little 17-month-old dwarf hamster, a Campbells x Winter White hybrid. He came from the lovely local hamster rescue where we also adopted Sandy from back in 2019, and he is a truly lovely little character. I am so so happy to have him in our home and he seems so happy and settled which is just wonderful. We weren’t expecting him to be especially friendly, and knew in the rescue he had been a great character but handling very much on his terms and he was likely to want to be left alone a lot, but since he arrived he’s actually really got into interacting and when I open the cage door is often climbing out and keen to be handled and is just a wonderful wee soul.

Arriving home, 2nd November 2021, his fan club waiting ❤️
These two are endlessly fascinated by him, not that he minds one bit, think it’s mutual as he climbs up the bars to have a good sniff at them!

And I couldn’t forget Charmer in a round-up of pets, who is doing away really well so far this winter. He’s been out at nights, and at the moment just comes in for a wee breakfast and 2 or 3 hours at his hay in the morning, and I’m so glad he seems to be thriving on that. We’ll just have to play the winter by ear depending on the weather that comes our way but for the moment enjoying him living his favourite outdoorsy life. ❤️

Life is going at some pace, the end of 2021 coming round fast, and we’re so looking forward to this Christmas season, hoping for some lovely cosy times at home and with family. ❤️ We had a first little impromptu gathering together in a family home at the weekend, round a Christmas tree with all our usual pets, kids, chatter and chaos, which was all the more special as my mum was just back recovered and able to join us again after having Covid. This year more than ever before just so glad for us all being safe and well, and for the cosy glow of time together. ❤️ Have definitely enjoyed gathering some wee thoughts on the last few months and will write again sooner! Hope you have all had a lovely weekend and have a lovely start to your week xx

cats, FAMILY, NATURE & SEASONS

Animal Adventures – September into October 🍁

As we move deeper into my favourite season of all, watching the leaves slowly change on the trees and begin to tumble to the ground, just a wee summary of how the pets are getting on, filling our wee world as they do with so much character and love.

It’s not long since I last wrote about Charmer, and not too much has happened with him, just a shiny new pair of shoes since I last wrote, and a start to our October of charity walks with his first couple of half-mile wander on his rope this week, one just with me and one with the A Team in tow!

Little Sandy too is still pottering away very happily, almost 31 months now and I’m so delighted with the shine in his coat still and how he’s holding his weight.

The cats are our biggest changers ❤️ Rosie and Theo have just turned 5 months old, and been with us just over 3 months, and they are growing and changing all the time. Their characters are really becoming so clear and they have transformed life in our little house. ❤️

Rosie is very relaxed and loves cuddling and playing with the whole family, often joining in the kids’ games (kids’ toys and cat toys appear to be interchangeable, there is often a cat toy joining in the dolls house and one of the kids’ dinosaurs turning up in the cat bed!). She is always on some mission or other and tends to keep herself busy nipping upstairs to steal the bath plug and hide it around the house or paddling in the shower or sink after someone’s used them – and whenever I open a book, especially a big hardback, she jumps straight in, I barely do any reading anymore without a purring Rosie on my knee with her nose in the pages.

Theo (affectionately known as Teddy) is more of a reserved type, he’s very affectionate but keeps more of a distance from the chaos and comes into his own in the evening when the house is quieter – he has also settled to being a bit of a one-master cat, he definitely loves my husband most of all, seeking him out for 3am cuddles every single night, but now and then I get my moments with him and he’s a gorgeous and lovely boy.

Last week I had them both at the vets for their neutering, but in the end Rosie was still a little too little at just under 2kg, so she was given a few more weeks to bulk up. Theo, who was originally the littlest, has streaked ahead of her to become a strapping boy-cat, and at 2.4kg was ok going ahead with his operation.

He did really well, charmed everyone in the vets, the receptionist reported she’d barely been able to get any work done for cuddling him as per his demands! And when he got home he recovered really well. Unfortunately wee Rosie though was disconcerted by the smell of the vets or maybe just their first time apart, even though it was only a day, and gave him a hard time when he came back, hissing and not seeming to recognise him. It only lasted an evening before she settled, but it seems to have upset the balance a little between them and they had not been sleeping curled up together or spending all their time together since.

About a week later we actually made another appointment for Theo thinking something was wrong as he was sleeping round the clock and very lethargic but the vet could find nothing and believed the poor wee dot was just reacting to Rosie having been more aloof with him and missing the security of how close they were. The vet nurse at our local practice has a keen interest in cat behaviour so she gave us a few tips on ways to ease things for both of them to hopefully allow an improvement and fingers crossed it does seem to be working – We’ve gone from them keeping to opposite sides of the room to this….

To this..

And yesterday, briefly, their old tumbly cuddly selves ❤️

Teddy seems much more relaxed and like himself as a result so we do hope they get back to their wee pack of two before too long; but they are both such wonderful characters regardless and we just love having them in our home, it feels like they’ve part of the family forever.

Last but not least a wee cameo from our newest unofficial “pet”, Henry the Hedgehog (named by our eldest!) who frequents the garden at night. Was so happy to see what an excellent size he is! But we’ve been putting a wee bit of the cat’s food out nonetheless and a wee bit shelter in the bushes for him and love to sit out late and watch him in the dark.

We are on a week’s holiday here at the moment, and really looking forward to it, we were originally going to go away for a few days but have decided to stay closer to nine and do day trips here and there which we are all so excited about. Will post at the weekend some at-home adventures. Whether October break where you are or not hope you all have a really lovely week. X

Theo watching the world go by this morning ❤️
FAMILY, HAMSTERS

Happy (half) birthday to our wee Sandy… and big love for all the littlest ones ❤️

Our little Sandy hamster turned 2 and a half on Friday, and we decided to make a proper little fuss of him and give him a wee day of celebration! I think it’s quite hard to judge but have seen some hamster to human years “conversions” showing around 2 and a half creeping up to a very good age maybe even around 100 equivalent, and we are absolutely delighted to have little Sandy still with us and in very good health.

We brought him home at 4 months old from a lovely little hamster and small animal rescue not far from us in Fife where a couple of volunteers work tirelessly to help wee ones find their forever homes, and we’ve been lucky to have over two years of his company and counting. He’s a pottery wee soul these days, sometimes a little wobbly on his feet when he first wakes up, but he’s just doing away, enjoying life in his cage and some explores out and about with us too and he’s actually holding his weight really well which is great. He has been completely and utterly unfazed by the arrival of two curious kittens into his life who like nothing more than to watch him going about his business, and regards them with interest but no fear whatsoever, getting on with his important work of moving food around and now and then doing a wee bed reshuffle.

The kids loved making him some decorations and giving him a treat stick which he got straight to work on and is still very much enjoying a few days on!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the small pets in our lives the last few weeks as it was August eleven years ago, just as the back to school feeling was around us and the change of autumn in the air, that I decided to really start our little animal family. I’d already had a lovely wee companion for a couple of years while at uni, briefly back home, and then in my first flat of my own, in the form of my very first hamster, little Annabelle, who I’d always so enjoyed the company of. She had died a few months before and I had really missed her. I always remember so clearly the day in August 2010 I came back from a weekend at home with my family and all our assorted animal companions (always a full house ❤️) to my empty flat and realised that I wanted so much to have a pet again. That led to me bringing home Smokie and Peatie, my first rats, two such wonderful wee characters – and never having been without pets since.

Smokie, Peatie and Simba, our original wee team ❤️

I knew so little about small pets then (Annabelle never having caused me any trouble, we’d never even seen a vet!) that it took me a few weeks to realise the boys I took home (originally Smokey and Petey) were actually girls. They taught me my first lessons early on and from that day on I’ve loved and lived and learned so much with my tiny companions. Within six months Smokie and Peatie and I had moved in with my husband and his house rabbit Simba and since then we’ve had a total of 14 pet rats, 5 hamsters and the rabbit (and also two Giant African Land Snails who were more my husband’s charges, I still know very little about them!) – mostly rescued or given their second home with us and all of them bringing so much joy to our home.

The rats: Smokie, Peatie, Sylvie, Lizzie, Chae, Winston, Pipkin, Harvey, Ty, Reuben, Perry, Marley, Jasper and Jet

Keeping small animals has been so incredibly rewarding for me. The rats in particular always taught me so much, there were so many health issues to learn about and absolutely fascinating behaviour to study and interactions to be had. Our hamsters too, Annabelle, Grace, Darcy, Rosie* and Sandy, have been such amazing characters. I always hear of people complaining of grumpy bitey hamsters but the five I’ve been blessed to share my home with have been such lovely wee souls.

The hamsters: Annabelle, Grace, Darcy, Rosie and Sandy

As the kittens keep us busy with new lessons to be learned (back on the back foot again after almost always knowing what the vet would say before I took the rats with a few years of experience under my belt, suddenly I realise how little we know about our new pets and I am googling and researching cat information at every turn!); and Charmer – as he has for over twenty-one years now – fills my animal world; I’m so so glad too for all the space taken up in our home and hearts then and now by the tiniest of our pets – and love having wee Sandy around so much.

Happy birthday little gent 🧡.

Hope you all have a lovely start to the week. X

*yes we have now had so many pets that we are repeating names! Little Rosie-ham who we brought home back in 2014 was our first Rosie, named for her pinky-red eyes and bright wee face, but when our oldest daughter was determined to call our girl cat Rosie from the moment the idea of getting a cat was floated we went with it, she can be Rosie-cat for long! My husband’s second snail was also called Sandy so it’s not even our first offence… But when Sandy hamster arrived to us so perfectly coloured and so in love with his sand bath he couldn’t be anything but…. ❤️

NATURE & SEASONS

September’s Eve 🍂

Just a quick update tonight as August tumbles into September, with so many thoughts whirling in my head as we settle in to a gently shifting change in season once again.

Our world the last few weeks has been filled with a back-to-school air – or off to school for the very first time really, as our biggest girl has started school nursery, and we have found ourselves in the primary school playground every day for drop offs and pick ups, finding our feet in a whole new world. She is settling in so well to nursery life despite what a big leap it seems to have been for her from her couple of mornings at playgroup last year, and it’s wonderful to hear all the new stories every day.

It’s been a time of transition for all of us in a smaller way, maybe most of all for our littlest who is adjusting to mornings without her sister around. We’ve picked back up with our usual toddler groups, music classes and song and rhyme sessions, only this time I just have her in tow, and she’s found that a bit different, her natural confidence taking a little longer to come out without her usual shadow to walk in. But it’s been really really lovely watching her too adapt to a new stage, growing in independence and changing all the time.

For my part, I’m enjoying this new era as much as the ones before it, especially with the freedom that’s returned more over the summer, and making the most of the time I have both with one and with two. Today after the nursery drop off, on a wander with tiny down to a lovely free sing-along session in a museum in town, we discovered a little library we had no idea was there. It was so nice to be able to choose a book to take home for the kids and we have some of theirs and mine we need to donate so it’ll be a lovely place to do it on our next walk.

After our little class, as we walked back up the hill, we came across a gated entrance that captured her attention, and I’d forgotten how enjoyable it was to be able to just take the path because she fancied it and do the exploring. Before we knew it we’d wound down into the glen with the squirrels and birds and it was a lovely impulse to be able to follow.

And we only had to wait until this afternoon for the pace to be shifted once again with both girls back home together (we’re building up the nursery hours slowly over the year so still have lots of times all of us). It was lovely just to settle at home, read our new book all together, do some quiet activities and enjoy the old routine.

Spent some time in the garden too in the newly-fresh air, a slight nip to it today after so long of hot days – with the kittens out too for one of their first wee plays while we watched them explore (just over 4 months now and a pair of energy-filled leggy tearaways at the moment, full of fun and doing well ☺️).

There’s so much else been going on I will write more on later – the pony doing well as we come to the to the end of the summer and making a start on getting him prepared for winter, starting to feel more settled into my new job at the weekends and the training along with it too keeping me busy of an evening, my husband taking his first tentative steps back to office life some days (though still with the home office as the default for foreseeable future which we’re so thankful for for time all together).

One of the things we’ve been most glad of in the last few weeks in the midst of everything else is that we have had some wonderful chances to catch up with friends and family. At the weekend we had the loveliest family garden gathering under twinkling lights, breathing in the smell of woodsmoke and the togetherness we’ve missed so much. It can feel sometimes to an extent like we’re still living tentatively in a hangover from all the disruption to life last year, and so it was so liberating to have such an old-school family day and night and remember how much we love to assemble. 🥰 I’m looking forward so much now to a season ahead of wrapping up for chiminea nights and cosy gatherings. ❤️

Hope you are all well, and wish you a really lovely start to September.. 🍁